Donations of Alexandria

Donations of Alexandria
Map of the Donations of Alexandria (by Mark Antony to Cleopatra and her children) in 34 BC.

The Donations of Alexandria (Autumn 34 BC) were a religio-political (theopolitical) statement by Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony in which they distributed lands held by Rome and Parthia amongst Cleopatra's children, and granted them many titles, especially for Caesarion, son of Julius Caesar. The Donations caused a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Rome and were amongst the causes of the Final War of the Roman Republic.



The Donations followed Antony's mixed military adventures in Parthia and Armenia. He had conquered the latter, but had failed in his main aim of defeating the Parthians. He attempted to play up his successes by creating a festival imitating a Roman Triumph to celebrate his victory over the Armenian leader Artavasdes, who was led in captivity through the city of Alexandria. Antony then held a public banquet in which he dressed as the god Dionysus.[1] The captured Armenian royal family were brought before Cleopatra, to whom they were expected to prostrate themselves, but they refused to do so, earning her wrath.[1]

The Donations

For the finale of the festivities, the whole city was summoned to the Gymnasium of Alexandria, where Antony and Cleopatra, dressed as Dionysus-Osiris and Isis-Aphrodite, sat on golden thrones. Caesarion was depicted as Horus, son of Isis. The children were similarly in the attire of their new kingdoms. Antony affirmed Cleopatra as queen of Egypt, Cyprus, Libya and central Syria.[2]

The Donations themselves included:


Antony sent an announcement of the donations to Rome, hoping that the Senate would confirm them, which it refused to do.[1] Octavian's political position was threatened by the acknowledgement of Caesarion as legitimate and heir to Caesar's name. Octavian's base of power was his link with Caesar through adoption, which granted him much-needed popularity and loyalty of the legions. Octavian increased the personal attacks against Mark Antony and Cleopatra and the triumvirate expired on the last day of 33 BC not to be renewed. Thus began the last civil war of the Roman Republic, with Octavian's victory resulting in the transition to the Imperial Era.


  1. ^ a b c Prudence J. Jones, Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh, Haus Publishing, 2006, p.89-91
  2. ^ Dio 49.41, 50.3; Plutarch, Life of Antony 54, 58

External links

See also

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